Pressure is continuing to mount on DUP Health Minister Edwin Poots after another night of difficulties at Belfast’s main A&E unit.
At one point on Monday evening there were around 130 people waiting for treatment at the Royal Victoria Hospital unit – 29 lying on trollies due to the overcrowding.
The latest problems arose just weeks after the Belfast Trust declared a “major incident” in early January when it was reported that up to 42 people were waiting on trolleys in the RVH.
Public service union Unison has called on Mr Poots to “take urgent action to ensure the fast-tracking of increased bed capacity and recruitment of additional staff to ease the pressure on our A&E services”.
The union further warned that “the difficulties and demands on our A&E departments are not isolated to one particular area or health trust”.
UUP health spokesman Roy Beggs claimed that the instigation of “escalation measures” at the RVH on Monday was “symptomatic of a deepening crisis”.
“It is abhorrent that the minister and the health trusts try to pass off these pressures as exceptional or deny that a crisis exists,” he added.
Fearghal McKinney, of the SDLP, said: “Unions, staff representatives and patients are making it clear that the system is broken. Interim measures will be needed but a short-term sticking plaster will not cure the long-term problem.”